MUSCAT, Feb 26 – Oman Table Tennis Committee (OTTC) is set to host Seamaster ITTF Challenge Plus, (Oman Open 2019) tournament in coordination with International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). As many as 165 players from 36 countries will take part in the tournament in Muscat from March 20 to 24 at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex indoor courts. The five days tournament will feature participation of players form the following countries: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, France, Germany, India, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Thailand, China, Taipei, America, Brazil, Canada, Finland, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Qatar, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Croatia, Italy, South Korea, Paraguay, Algeria, Sweden, Ecuador and Oman.
Haitham al Mandhari and Muhannad al Balushi will represent the Sultanate players in the top table tennis event in Muscat. The selection of Haitham and Muhannad was based on internal tournament held in Muscat which was competed by many local players. Mohammed Atoum, national head coach, supervised the internal tournament. He is following up currently with the players and shaping them for the big event. Series of internal camps and playing some friendlies will be the preparation plan for both players to gear up for the ITTF competition. In addition, local players will have a golden opportunity to play with top professional players and gain the required experience and skills. The ITTF has arranged a total prize of $65,000 as cash money for the top winners. All the players will compete to reach to the podium and add to their existing points to strengthen their rankings in the players list.
PREPARATIONS IN FULL GEAR
Mohammed Dawlatli from Egypt appointed as tournament director while Sajjad al Lawati will be the competitions manager. The Egyptian is well known personnel in ITTF as he had managed and supervised many global tournaments. International umpire Peter Bahamoski from Czech Republic is the general referee of the tournament while Said Lansari from Algeria will assist him.
Around eight tables will be set for the players at the indoor hall of Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex. The OTTC is working tirelessly with related government entities to ease the process of international players to arrive smoothly to Muscat in the coming days. Other logistics preparation is taken care by the different committees set by the OTTC including the accommodation and transport.
The OTTC is well experienced to organise such world ranking class events as they had hosted successfully many regional and international tournaments including Arab TT in August 2017, Oman Fiber Open international tournament in December 2017 and the ITTF junior tournament in February last year. Therefore, the ITTF has awarded the Sultanate to host Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus. Along to the mentioned tournament, the OTTC will have other two major events to be organised in the Sultanate namely the international camp for juniors in Salalah during August while the third event is represented by Oman International Tournament for Juniors (Premium) which is scheduled to kick off on October 24.
The OTTC will unveil the full details of the upcoming global event through a press conference that scheduled to be held in beginning of March. The press conference will be presented by Aduallah Ba Mukhalef, Chairman of OTTC, Sajjad al Lawati, competitions director, and media representatives.